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editorial

Reporters at The Washington Post last week dug a telling tidbit out of a 500-page environmental-impact statement prepared for the Trump administration.

The draft statement, released in July by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), said the planet is doomed to warm by almost 4 C by the year 2100, a disastrous increase that would produce extreme heat waves, acidify the oceans and cause coastlines to flood.

The report went on to conclude that the Trump administration might as well go ahead with its plan to freeze fuel-efficiency standards for cars and light trucks built after 2020, since the rise in greenhouse gas emissions that would result would make little difference one way or the other.

This self-serving logic exposes the hypocrisy of Donald Trump. He seems to have gone from saying catastrophic climate change is a hoax, and so he won’t do anything about it, to accepting the assumption that it is inevitable, and so he won’t do anything about it.

But it also lays bare the insincerity of politicians who say they want to fight man-made climate change but fail to commit their countries to adequate action.

The NHTSA based its assumption of a four-degree rise partly on the fact that the signatories of the 2015 Paris climate accord, which Mr. Trump has vowed to pull out of, haven’t cut greenhouse gas emissions to the levels required to limit the planet’s warming to two degrees, as agreed upon.

In fact, many countries, Canada included, risk not fully meeting the targets they did bother to set.

The report is probably correct when it says that the only sure way to prevent a four-degree rise would be for the entire world to make a wholesale move away from fossil fuels, a revolution that is “not currently technologically feasible or economically feasible.”

Canada is just one of many countries playing the longer, more realistic game of developing fossil-fuel resources while cutting emissions and investing in green technology.

Based on the fact no major industrialized nation has gone all-in in the effort to cut emissions, Mr. Trump is not wrong to assume the worst. He’s just wrong to shrug his shoulders and ask, ‘Why bother?’